Take good care of your bones

February 23, 2021 BY

More than 4.74 million Australians over 50 years of age (approximately two-thirds of those aged over 50) are living with poor bone health.

The Australian population broke about 173,000 bones last year, and people of all ages are being urged to prioritise their bone health.

According to medical director of Healthy Bones Australia (formerly Osteoporosis Australia), Professor Peter Ebeling, the growing prevalence of osteoporosis and the increasing number of associated fractures meant much more must be done to improve public awareness of the importance of maintaining healthy bones, and diagnosis and treatment for those at risk and living with the disease.

“Concerningly, the prevalence of osteoporosis in Australia is on the rise, with more than 4.74 million Australians over 50 years of age (approximately two-thirds of those aged over 50) living with poor bone health.

“Early diagnosis of osteoporosis is vital to reducing fracture rates, and their subsequent impacts and costs.

“These osteoporotic fractures cost the Australian healthcare system more than $3 billion each year.

“The renaming of our consumer organisation to ‘Healthy Bones Australia’ reflects our aim – to protect, build and support better bone health for all Australians.”

Healthy Bones Australia deputy chair of the medical and scientific advisory committee, Dr Weiwen Chen, said educating target populations about the risk factors for osteoporosis is critical to ensuring earlier diagnosis of the disease, reducing fracture rates, and curbing their impact and cost.

“Public health messaging about the importance of prioritising and maintaining healthy bones tailored to those aged 50 and over with risk factors, younger adults with specific risk factors, and those who have sustained a fracture, is very important,” Dr Chen said.

“Evidenced-based, consumer resources are vital, alongside core services, such as a national website, a toll-free helpline, risk factor fact sheets and online self-assessment tools, all of which are available free of charge from Healthy Bones Australia.”

By 2022, about 6.2 million Australians over 50 years of age will be living with poor bone health (either osteoporosis or osteopenia), equating to 183,105 fractures each year.

By 2022, a fracture will occur every 2.9 minutes, resulting in 501 fractures per day, 3,521 fractures per week, and 183,105 fractures per year.

By 2022, the projected total cost of poor bone health among Australians aged over 50 will be $3.84 billion, comprising ambulance services, hospitalisations, emergency department and outpatient services, rehabilitation, aged care and community services.

The total direct and indirect cost of poor bone health and its associated fractures over 10 years (2012-2022) is $33.6 billion.

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